April 8, 2010

Dear Jack, Month 34

Dear Jack,

I sometimes lose my patience with you. Quite often, your 2-year-old mindset pushes me to my 31-year-old limit.

A few days ago, I told you it was time for bed and you said you were scared. I rolled my eyes and said, "I promise you that there are no monsters or dinosaurs in your ceiling fan." This is your most common complaint at bedtime.

But you said, "I'm scared that you're going to yell at me."

I immediately wanted to reply, "Well then OBEY when I tell you to stay in bed."

But the very next second, I found myself in tears. I felt a little like I had been kicked in the stomach. You don't always stay in bed, and when you do, you're often jumping up and down or screeching in a way that makes shivers go up and down my spine. And at the end of the day, when I'm tired and still have many hours of work left ahead of me, yelling just seems to be the only option. We haven't ever spanked or hit you, but to be honest, I kind of feel like that might have been more constructive in some situations than yelling at you.

The "funny" thing is that I've been trying to figure out why you yell so much when you're frustrated and angry with Bennett or other kids, and I think my question was answered in that moment. It's how I've taught you to handle your frustration.

And I guess I should define what I mean by "yell." I don't scream at you. But I raise my voice and lose any sort of gentleness and patience that one's parent should have. I know that even when I'm disciplining firmly, I should still be gentle.

But I don't want that to be what you think of when you think about bedtime . . . being scared that I'll yell. I hope that you're young enough that I can replace some of these memories with more positive ones.

So, over the last week, I've been intentional about not raising my voice . . . except for the time that I thought you were going to run into the parking lot at Target. I still reserve my right to yell during times like those. But overall, I've looked for alternative ways to show you that I mean business. And I'm trying to teach you ways in which you can express your anger and your frustration without totally losing your cool.

I think it's important to know that gentleness and patience aren't things at which we can simply "try harder." They're actually a natural result of a deepening relationship with God. They're fruit of the Spirit . . . they the result of rooting my life in Christ so that the character of God will continue to grow in me. Trying to be these things is ultimately futile. The more we're in relationship with God, the more they'll be a natural result of his character growing in us.

This letter is late, I know. I spent a lot of the last week processing these things. I so desperately want to be a good mom, Jack. I love you.


1 comment:

Melanie Eccles said...

honesty, Sara, I've always feared I would discipline my children in the "wrong way"--in anger. I hated when my parents "yelled" at me (defined the same way you defined yelling) and at this point I can only hope and pray God will grant me the patience I need to think before I speak (yell). I'm scared to hear my kids say "mommy's mean" or something to that effect. But I suppose...it all works out in the end. I will learn from my mistakes and they will learn from theirs. right? :)